The AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate Exam: What’s New in 2020
The AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate exam is getting a major update in 2020. The certification is a great way to develop a comprehensive understanding of AWS and ensure you or your team are making the best cloud architecture design decisions for your company’s needs.
My course, Ultimate AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate 2020, helps professionals architect and deploy secure applications across AWS cloud computing services. You’ll learn how to best use core AWS features like compute, networking, recovery, storage, and database to build and scale cost-efficient fault-tolerant systems. Most important of all, it prepares you to take and pass the new AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate SAA-C02 exam.
In this article, I’ll detail the changes to the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate exam, who should invest their learning time pursuing the certification, and what these changes mean for those who previously completed the certification.
Last Updated October 2021
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Who should take the Solutions Architect Associate Exam?
This exam covers quite a broad range of materials and I consider it an integral foundation for jobs that require AWS expertise. Tech professionals with the Solutions Architect Associate certification even see higher pay over peers with other AWS certifications. Since the exam covers a wide array of AWS components, IT managers who oversee a team of AWS experts should consider completing this certification so that they have a high-level knowledge of the problems and features their team members will manage.
5 important new topics on the Solutions Architect Exam
While there are dozens of updates to the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate exam, there are five new topic areas that are relevant to cloud computing specialists.
- Amazon Global Accelerator: This service will likely grow in importance within the AWS ecosystem over the coming years. AWS Global Accelerator improves application availability and performance to users around the world. It also continually monitors your application endpoints to automatically reroute traffic to new endpoints as needed for the best performance.
- Amazon FSx: We’ll look at many AWS storage features in this course, but FSx is especially noteworthy as it provides file systems for enterprise and high-performance workloads. Within minutes, a file system can be set up for Windows or to support HPC with Lustre because FSx automates time-consuming administrative tasks including hardware provisioning, software configuration, backups, and patching.
- S3 Performance Tips: To prepare for the new exam, we go deeper into S3 performance optimizations and how S3 lifecycle rules work. Amazon has introduced a new S3 storage class, the Glacier Deep Archive, which provides long-term storage for large volumes of data. It’s comparable to expensive off-premises tape archival offerings, but the data can be retrieved in 12 hours or fewer.
- AWS PrivateLink: An important new part of AWS networking offerings is the AWS PrivateLink service, which easily creates a more secure connection between a VPC (virtual private cloud), other AWS services, or on-site applications. Building a PrivateLink prevents data exposure on a public internet by keeping network traffic within an AWS instance.
- AWS DataSync: This service is seeing growing importance for companies as it automates and accelerates the copying and transferring of data across AWS systems. You’ll want to know how to use DataSync to directly transfer data to any S3 storage class.
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How did I make these course changes so quickly?
The AWS team makes updates to certifications often. But when there are major changes or old practices get retired, a total refresh of the certification exam will occur. At the end of 2019, I took the beta exam for the new AWS Solutions Architect Certificate and used that experience to craft the updates to my course. I then looked at the documentation provided publicly by Amazon and set off for updating the course in time for students to start learning in accordance with the new SAA-C02 exam requirements.
When creating or updating content, I try to put myself in your — the student’s — shoes, asking: “How do I want to learn these topics in the most simple and complete way?” I dig into the company’s documentation to identify the problems the new technologies are addressing. Then, I find the most straightforward way of teaching so that students are equipped to not only pass the certification exam but to solve these problems on their own, in their jobs.
In this course update, students have access to four hours of refreshed content and four hours of brand-new instructional content in line with the exam’s 2020 changes. The full course is 22 hours long and includes over 600 slides provided as a PDF. It has helped countless students get their AWS certifications with flying colors.
Do I need to retake the exam?
The AWS Solutions Architect Associate certification is valid for three years. If you already have the certification, you do not need to retake the exam until your current certification expires.
For those who were already planning to take the SAA-C01 exam before March 22, I encourage you to do so. You’ll receive the same certification as anyone taking the SAA-C02 exam after March 22, which will still be valid for three years.
Nonetheless, everyone should watch the new lectures. It’s always good to be up-to-date on the most recent AWS knowledge.
One constant in the world of cloud computing is that cloud computing certifications will change as the technology evolves. IT professionals must stay informed on these changes. Keep an open learning mindset, and you’ll be able to keep your skills fresh and relevant to a modern company’s IT architecture needs. In addition to learning through courses like mine, follow industry news and attend meetups in your area or conferences to talk and learn with others in your field. I expect AWS to continue to innovate on this front to help IT teams deliver a more efficient IT architecture, so stay tuned for new developments to come.